NASA's Photos of a Rocket Explosion Make Fine Art Out of Scientific Catastrophe

A collection of spectacular photos have been released to Flickr

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard suffers a catastrophic anomaly moments after launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft was filled with supplies slated for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard suffers a catastrophic anomaly moments after launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft was filled with supplies slated for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard suffers a catastrophic anomaly moments after launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft was filled with about 5,000 pounds of supplies slated for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A is seen after the Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with Cygnus spacecraft onboard, suffered a catastrophic anomaly moments after launch on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft was filled with supplies slated for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A is seen after the Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with Cygnus spacecraft onboard, suffered a catastrophic anomaly moments after launch on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft was filled with supplies slated for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A is seen after the Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with Cygnus spacecraft onboard, suffered a catastrophic anomaly moments after launch on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft was filled with supplies slated for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

As it turns out, launching a rocket into space is very tricky business. It takes rooms full of actual geniuses weeks and even months of preparations, all of which can fall victim to the smallest irregularity. In 2014, the Antares rocket was meant to bring experiments and supplies up to the International Space Station. Soon after launch, something went wrong and the engineers slapped a cautious palm down on the self-destruct button. The result was a marvelous fireball that literally looks like hellfire, but didn’t actually injure anyone.

NASA recently dropped a grip of photos from the massive explosion into a Flickr gallery without much information. The images show the event from a variety of different viewpoints, some of which are literally a little stressful to behold.

The images were almost certainly captured by remote cameras, but the dark, contrasty tone makes the photos look shockingly cinematic.

Antares Orbital-3 Mission (201410280001HQ)